The Dogs of War Are Winning

Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author’s permission.

Clearly, on this 22nd anniversary of 9/11, the dogs of war have won and continue to win.

It hasn’t mattered that, over the last 16 years, after a 20-year military career, I’ve written hundreds of articles critical of the military-industrial-congressional complex (MICC) and in support of peacemaking and diplomacy rather than war making and gargantuan military expenditures. My writing hasn’t slowed America’s collective march toward nationalism, militarism, and war.

Lately, I’ve been working more closely with antiwar groups. They mean well. America needs them. But they are losing.

There are many reasons for this, the main one being the sheer size, reach, and power of the MICC. But there’s another reason that’s become apparent to me that’s perhaps best described in metaphorical terms.

The dogs of war run in packs obedient to the alphas. They know exactly what they want: power, profit, dominance. They are usually cocksure in their confidence and think of themselves as realists and patriots. They are rewarded with loads of money.

My cat. She does not back down to the dogs of war. But she’s territorial and doesn’t play well with others. She’s been known to show me who’s boss.

Critics of war are more like cats. They tend to be territorial, prickly, and disobedient. They may be against war, but they are often at cross purposes on how best to resist it. They may be quick to take offense at perceived slights and don’t always play well together.  They also have a lot less money. They are likely to see themselves as idealists and to reject patriotism as “combustible rubbish” and “the last refuge of the scoundrel.”

America is a dog country. Cats are suspect, especially antiwar ones. Especially brave cats (Daniel Hale, Chelsea Manning) are locked away in cages. Meanwhile, the alpha dogs make billions barking and growling and howling for war and yet more war.

Until we change this dynamic, the alpha dogs will continue to spread havoc in America and indeed across the globe.

William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF). He taught history for fifteen years at military and civilian schools. He writes at Bracing Views.